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Fossil launches SnapDragon Wear 3100 smartwatch

Fossil has announced the Fossil Sport Smartwatch, based on the recently launched Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform and the newly redesigned Wear OS by Google. 

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The watch boasts several new technology features, including extended battery life, a new battery saving mode, enhanced ambient mode, integrated heart rate, NFC, and GPS capabilities. It features sleek, ultra-lightweight design, colourful silicone straps, and updated technology.

The watch will be part of a new campaign led by model, marathoner, and entrepreneur Candice Huffine, chosen because she has inspired fans by spreading a message of positivity, inclusivity, and empowerment.

Says Steve Evans, executive vice president of the Fossil Group: “For several years, the health and wellness industry has been converging with smartwatch technology — and Fossil knew there was a tremendous opportunity to provide a connected option for the design-conscious consumer looking to bring style to their wrist. We know our consumers want versatility both in their activity and their accessories, which is why we wanted to bring a smartwatch to market that is a fit for every style.

“We’re incredibly excited to be able to offer a colourful sport smartwatch with endless customisation and equipped with latest Google and Qualcomm technology for a best-in-class consumer experience.”

Fossil Sport launches with six colourways, two case sizes (41 and 43 mm respectively), and numerous strap options, providing consumers with additional technology in Fossil designs and styles. The new nylon and aluminum case make this the lightest smartwatch to date and sits alongside 28 new silicone straps to give the wearer colourful combinations. Additionally, the Fossil Sport smartwatch will house a bigger battery (350 mAh), and the recently announced Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform, which brings in new capabilities and extends battery life.

“The smartwatch market continues to grow at a rapid pace with unprecedented innovation in the industry,” said Pankaj Kedia, senior director of product marketing at Qualcomm Technologies.

“Over the last three years, Fossil and Qualcomm have collaborated closely to launch a series of products and have led the Wear OS by Google smartwatch segment. The Fossil Sport smartwatch represents our best efforts yet made possible through the combination of Qualcomm’s world class Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform and Fossil’s ingenious pulse of the evolving consumer needs. This smartwatch truly represents the best of technology, fashion, and fitness.”

Fossil provided the following information:

Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform

Utilizing the latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform, Fossil Sport helps customers achieve more than a day’s worth of battery life in the full smartwatch experience, and offers a new battery saving mode that adds an additional two days of telling time. So, whether you forget your charger or just choose to unplug on the weekends, battery saver is designed to stretch your watch battery to last until you can charge again. As software experience continues to evolve, battery life will be further optimised. The Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform enhances the ambient mode allowing for an improved user experience–select dials will leverage the new platform to showcase colour and a sweeping second hand for more dynamic style.

Wear OS by Google Redesign

The evolved Wear OS by Google design simplifies and improves the overall experience. With a quick swipe, users can now access their information faster, receive proactive help from the Google Assistant and get smarter health coaching from Google Fit. Fossil has also created three hero watch faces that integrate Google Fit to show progress towards two new activity goals, Move Minutes and Heart Points, which Google Fit designed based on health recommendations from the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association.

Additionally, with integrated sensor processing, heart rate, optimised connectivity, GPS, and NFC capabilities on the platform, the Fossil Sport brings a rich set of features to the market. Rapid charging allows the smartwatch to be almost completely charged within an hour, helping power users from day to night. All watches will come with new applications auto-installed, including leading streaming music service, Spotify and peace of mind and safety app, Noonlight.

“As an early partner of Wear OS by Google, Fossil has brought to life a diverse range of beautiful smartwatches that help people stay on top of their daily lives,” said Stacey Burr, Vice President of Product Management for Wear OS by Google and Google Fit. “We’re thrilled to partner with Fossil to help people lead healthier lives with their latest Fossil Sport Smartwatch and unique watch faces designed with Google Fit.”

With this new generation of watch, Fossil showcases a unique, colourful take on technology and redefining what it means to bring activity and balance to your lifestyle. The added functions will give users a 360-holistic way to track all parts of their lives, while keeping true to the authentic creative spirit of innovative watch design that Fossil was founded on more than 30 years ago.

Features include:

·         Nylon case, aluminium top-ring and pushers

·         41 mm, 43 mm case size

·         Stunning touchscreen digital display

·         24+ hours battery life (based on usage) + 2 additional days in battery saver watch mode

·         Interchangeable straps and bracelets (18mm / 22mm)

·         Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform

·         Sensors: Heart Rate, NFC, GPS, Altimeter, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Ambient Light, Microphone

·         Powered with Wear OS by Google and compatible with iOS 9.3+ and Android 4.4+ (excluding Go edition)

·         Connect via Bluetooth technology

·         Wireless syncing + magnetic charging

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Online retail gets real

After decades of experience in selling online, retailers still seek out the secret of reaching the digital consumer, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s been 23 years since the first pizza and the first bunch of flowers was sold online. One would think, after all this time, that retailers would know exactly what works, and exactly how the digital consumer thinks.

Yet, in shopping-mad South Africa, only 4% of adults regularly shop online. One could blame high data costs, low levels of tech-savviness, or lack of trust. However, that doesn’t explain why a population where more than a quarter of people have a debit or credit card and almost 40% of people use the Internet is staying away.

The new Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Visa and Platinum Seed, reveals that growth is in fact healthy, but is still coming off a low base. This year, the total sale of retail products online is expected to pass the R14-billion mark, making up 1.4% of total retail.

This figure represents 25% growth over 2017, and comes after the same rate of growth was seen in 2017. At this rate, it is clear that online retail is going mainstream, driven by aggressive marketing, and new shopping channels like mobile shopping. 

But it is equally clear that not all retailers are getting it right. According to the study, the unwillingness of business to reinvest revenue in developing their online presence is one of the main barriers to long-term success. Only one in five companies surveyed invested more than 20% of their online turnover back into their online store. Over half invested less than 10% back.

On the surface, the industry looks healthy, as a surprisingly high 71% of online retailers surveyed say they are profitable. But this brings to mind the early days of Amazon.com, in 1996, when founder Jeff Bezos was asked when it would become profitable.

He declared that it would not be profitable for at least another five years. And if it did, he said, it would be in big trouble. He meant that it was so important for long-term sustainability that Amazon reinvest all its revenues in customer systems, that it could not afford to look for short-term profits.

According to the South African study, the single most critical factor in the success of online retail activities is customer service. A vast majority, 98% of respondents, regarded it as important. This positions customer service as the very heart of online retail. For Amazon, investment back into systems that would streamline customer service became the key to the world’s digital wallets.

In South Africa online still make up a small proportion of overall retail, but for the first time we see the promise of a broader range of businesses in terms of category, size, turnover and employee numbers. This is a sign that our local market is beginning to mature. 

Clothing and apparel is the fastest growing sector, but is also the sector with the highest turnover of businesses. It illustrates the dangers of a low barrier to entry: the survival rate of online stores in this sector is probably directly opposite to the ease of setting up an online apparel store.

A fast-growing category that was fairly low on the agenda in the past, alcohol, tobacco and vaping, has benefited from the increased online supply of vapes, juices and accessories. It also suggests that smoking bans, and the change in the legal status of marijuana during the survey, may have boosted demand. 

In the coming weeks, we can expect online retail to fall under the spotlight as never before. Black Friday, a shopping tradition imported “wholesale” from the United States, is expected to become the biggest online shopping day of the year in South Africa, as it is in the USA.

Initially, it was just a gimmick in South Africa, attempting to cash in on what was a purely American tradition of insane sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, which occurs on the third Thursday of November every year. It is followed by Cyber Monday, making the entire weekend one of major promotions and great bargains.

It has grown every year in South Africa since its first introduction about six years ago, and last year it broke into the mainstream, with numerous high profile retailers embracing it, and many consumers experiencing it for the first time. 

It is now positioned as the prime bargain day of the year for consumers, and many wait in anticipation for it, as they do in the USA. Along with Cyber Monday, it provides an excuse for retailers to go all out in their marketing, and for consumers to storm the display shelves or web pages. South African shoppers, clearly, are easily enticed by bargains.

Word of mouth around Black Friday has also grown massively in the past two years, driven by both media and shoppers who have found ridiculous bargains. As news spreads that the most ridiculous of the bargains are to be had online, even those who were reticent of digital shopping will be tempted to convert.

The Online Retail in SA 2019 report has shown over the years that, as people become more experienced in using the Internet, their propensity to shop online increases. This is part of the World Wide Worx model known as the Digital Participation Curve. The key missing factor in the Curve is that most retailers do not know how to convert that propensity into actual online shopping behaviour. Black Friday will be one of the keys to conversion.

Carry on reading to find out about the online retailers of the year.

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Reliable satellite Internet?

MzansiSat, a satellite-Internet business, aims to beam Internet connections to places in South Africa which don’t have access to cabled and mobile network infrastructure, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Stellenbosch-based MzansiSat promises to provide cheap wholesale Internet to Internet Service Providers for as little as R25 per Gigabyte. Providers who offer more expensive Internet services could benefit greatly from partnering with MzansiSat, says the company. 

“Using MzansiSat, we hope that we can carry over cost-savings benefits to the consumer,” says Victor Stephanopoli, MzansiSat chief operating officer.

The company, which has been spun off from StellSat, has been looking to increase its investor portfolio while it waits for spectrum approval. The additional investment will allow MzansiSat’s satellite to operate in more regions across Africa.

The MzansiSat satellite is being built by Thales Alenia Space, a French company which is also acting as technical partner to MzansiSat. In addition to building the satellite, Thales Alenia Space will also be assisting MzansiSat in coordinating the launch. The company intends to launch the satellite into the 56°E orbital slot in a geostationary orbit, which enables communication almost anywhere in Africa. The launch is expected to happen in 2022. 

The satellite will have 76 transponders, 48 of which will be Ku-band and 28 C-band. Ku-band is all about high-speed performance, while C-band deals with weather-resistance. The design intention is for customers of MzansiSat to choose between very cheap, reliable data and very fast, power-efficient data. 

C-band is an older technology, which makes bandwidth cheaper and almost never affected by rain but requires bigger dishes and slower bandwidth compared to Ku-band connections. On the other hand, Ku-band is faster, experiences less microwave interference, and requires less power to run – but is less reliable with bad weather conditions.

MzansiSat’s potential military applications are significant, due to the nature of the military being mobile and possibly in remote areas without connectivity.  Connectivity everywhere would be potentially be life-saving.

Consumers in remote areas will benefit, even though satellite is higher in latency than fibre and LTE connections. While this level of latency is high (a fifth of a second in theory), satellite connections are still adequate for browsing the Internet and watching online content. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) may see the benefits of satellite Internet before consumers do. The applications of IoT in agriculture are vast, from hydration sensors to soil nutrient testers, and can be realised with an Internet connection which is available in a remote area.

Stephanopoli says that e-learning in remote areas can also benefit from MzansiSat’s presence, as many school resources are becoming readily available online. 

“Through our network, the learning experience can be beamed into classrooms across the country to substitute or complement local resources within the South African schooling system.”

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